The Musical Creation of Sacred Writing Space

I can’t listen to music while I write.  That’s not exactly right, really.  I can listen to ambient background sort of melodies.  Actual head bopping, wiggling in my seat kind of tunes that make me want to sing along–I just can’t do it.  It’s distracting, unless I’m in the uber zone and my neurology has its own thing going.

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!However, I do find that I require listening to certain kinds of music to write certain characters.  In magickal traditions ritual is the means of altering one’s atmosphere and innerscape to focus on performing a specific task.  This is called creating sacred space, opening s circle, or calling in the directions, depending on your tradition.  I find it’s the same with writing.  Where ritual is the joining of symbol with logic, it’s the fusion of left and right brain.  For me, listening to specific music is a ritual that helps me hear characters’ voices better and stay in touch with their emotions longer by listening to certain songs in my non-writing life.

For instance, I just finished a huge fiction project featuring a male character that was supported by loads of Killers, Ferdinand, and a decent dose of Mumford.  I didn’t listen to those tunes while writing, but that stage of my life around writing that project featured loads of those guys.     Another shorter project featured a very unconventional guy who was floated by lots of Manson and Alice in Chains.   One of my female leads carried lots of Tori Amos  and Fiona Apple around with her.

It seems that when I get certain music associated with specific characters, I start finding the themes that character is working out in everything around me. Again, that’s part of ritual.  Ritual is partly paying reverence to the task at hand, but it’s also learning to train the brain to make the switch out of regular mode into whatever the desired mode is.  The more practiced the ritualist, the easier it becomes to switch modes.  The cues used to shift into ritual become less prominent.  At the same time the need for those cues becomes less while the ability to recognize them in our regular everyday space becomes more attuned.  In short, I start to find the Universal connection of my character, which makes the development smoother, more relatable, more realistic.  Even when I’m not intending to write about anything magickal or fantastical, it’s still part of the process.

15 thoughts on “The Musical Creation of Sacred Writing Space

  1. Came for the Blogger Ball and found this really interesting post…interesting to me, because I can’t listen to music when I write either…but not for all the same reasons. Yes it’s distracting, but more than that I find myself so immersed in the music, the rhythm, the tempo, the melody, and the structure, I completely lose my train of thought for what I was writing. Yes, I am a musician and was trained to listen to everything that’s going on in a piece of music, whether it be a Beethoven Synphony, a Brubeck jazz rendition of Brandenberg Gate, or a raucous rock performance by Aerosmith of one of Steven Tyler’s sexy songs. Anyhow…..I can’t listen to music while I write.
    Sorry to take up so much room here…but I was on a roll… LOL

  2. I love the idea of “creating a sacred space.” What a good way of going about your writing routine. I know if my room is an absolute mess, which it often is, I have a really hard time concentrating on what I’m trying to do, no matter what kind of writing it is. I’ve tried writing to music but it always has to be music without words. I like to write really dramatic sections of work to war instrumentals. No idea why.

    Oh, and I came from Blogger Ball. 🙂

    Nice to meet blog-meet you.


  3. So agree with the sacred space. I often listen to music when I write, it does give me inspiration into what that character is feeling. Just stopping by to say hello on the bloggers ball! ; )

  4. Stopping by from the Blogger’s Ball. Love hearing about your process. I think I need a “sacred space”, you’ve given me some food for thought. Great music choices, fyi! xx

  5. Stopping by on the blogger ball. I have similar issues with music – except it seems I can’t have any kind of music. Just too distracting! I used to listen to classical until even Bach became to mesmerizing for me to concentrate. Tonight, the cicadas are buzzing, and that’s a fine accompaniment!

  6. Here from the blogger ball. I do enjoy music while I write, usually mellow stuff like Jason Mraz, Ray Lamontagne, etc. Some musical scores are good as well. I just find that the music fills the silence and actually keeps me focused.

  7. I don’t always write with music, but when I do it is usually either instrumental-only or in a language I don’t know so that the words don’t distract me. That said, music effects me (and all of us) on such a deep level.

    I’ve seen novels that come along with a cd/soundtrack, which I’m not certain is a good idea as it doesn’t allow the reader to create his or her own…

    On a sort of related note, heard an interview with Mark Changizi the other day, a neuroscientist who recently published a book called “Harnessed,” in which he says that we create our words as well as our music by imitating the sounds of nature.

    I love your description of your process and how music effects (and sometimes plays a role) in your characters and their development.

  8. I cannot listen to music, or have any background noise when I’m writing. I tried it before, (trying to write a sexy scene) and read back what I’d written. Oh my…what a faint horror!

    Must say though, after writing several books, each one has taken me through a different experience. Kind of have to go with the flow.

    Hope you enjoy the ball, and to Valerie, I love the sound of cicadas. That’s a background noise that might work!

  9. And here I thought I was the only one! I have a better shot at writing with my entire family in the next room yelling over the TV than to have great music playing. It’s really the lyrics that get me; I think songwriters are the most under-appreciated writers on the planet and when I catch one perfect phrase or one small chorus that tells an enormous story, it pulls me completely away from my own 😉

  10. Hi, I’m stopping by from the She Writes blog hop. I can’t listen to music when I write. I tune out noise (when there is any), but usually I prefer quiet when I write.

  11. Sometimes I can write without music, sometimes I *need* it. I do find sometimes music with lyrics is a distraction – gets me to get up and dance – but sometimes I *need* that if I’ve been hammering away for several hours.

    I also burn scented candles or incense to get in that space. Glad to fin you via Blogger’s Ball – going to follow this site now. 🙂

  12. Stopping by from the Blogger’s Ball to say hello.
    I’m one of those writers who can’t write if there are conflicting words in the room from music or conversation. I need dead silence. However listening to music before I write can get me in the mood. Same with my painter-sister — entire images will spring up from music.

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